This is the Olympics that has put games in the hands of the spectator via hundreds of different apps. Some have dubbed London 2012 as the ‘social media Olympics’ as athletes, organisers, brands, pundits and punters all give it what they’ve got via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest or whatever platform they prefer to use.
Add vast numbers of smartphones into the mix, so people can react, share and comment in real time, and the world is connected to the games – or interconnected – on an unprecedented level.
“We are at a dawn of a new age of sharing and connecting, and London 2012 will ignite the first conversational Olympic Games, thanks to social media platforms and technology,” Alex Huot, the International Olympic Committee’s head of social media, told The Economic Times of India.
The organisers have created an Olympic Athletes’ Hub – which now has over 2.9 million ‘likes’ on Facebook – that allows fans to search for athletes, sports, teams and events. You can sign up via Facebook or Twitter and follow and in the process, earn rewards by following your favourite athletes and “participating in the community”. You can also follow @Olympics on Twitter, and join the other 1 114 916 people who are doing so.
The International Olympic Committee has also created a dedicated YouTube channel that will provide 2 000 hours of free live coverage in 64 territories in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
Riverbed Technology has produced new research that shows that more than a third of Europeans claim they will watch the Olympic Games online. As a result, it says, streaming websites need to be prepared to cope with this demand.
The research identified the Men’s 100m sprint final as the Olympic event most likely to be watched online with an average of 51% of all respondents. The next most popular event to be watched online was the Men’s 100m freestyle swimming event, with an average of 36%, followed by the Men’s Football Final, which had an average of 30% of respondents1 claiming it as one of their most popular online events.
It also found that over half of all online Olympic viewers would be unwilling to tolerate delays of over two minutes when streaming services before moving to a different source.
“Europeans are changing their viewing habits. And global sporting events like Olympic Games often create traffic spikes as people use their PCs, laptops or mobile devices to watch their favourite athletes, get real-time updates on events, and purchase event-related merchandise,” says Apurva Davé, vice president of products, Stingray Business Unit, at Riverbed said.
In South Africa, Sports24.com has created a dedicated Olympics 2012 site that is chock-a-block with up to the minute reports, interviews, multimedia clips and blogs. And of course, it stays up to date with what our South Africa team is doing. Follow @sport24guy for news.
Of course, apps are the thing and one that’s gathering kudos is the Reuters Olympics London 2012 offering that promises to deliver the best live Olympics photos and moments captured by Reuters award-winning photographers. It is universal, and photo-centric, making full use of the agency’s slew of superb photographers to deliver stunning visual content to users. Users can also view images through the photostream, a slideshow that adds new photos constantly that users can then share via Facebook and Twitter.
London 2012: Official Results App for the Olympic and Paralympic Games is a free app available for Apple, Android, Windows 7 and BlackBerry devices. You can view schedules, follow events in progress, find results of each sport, medal counts and athlete performance through three different apps.
Fans accessing www.bbc.com/olympics via their desktop and mobile devices will also be able to enjoy more relevant Olympics news from around the world following the inclusion of Geo IP targeting. For instance fans in the US will have the latest news titled ‘Team USA Headlines’ and this functionality will be available for all countries participating in the games. This will complement all other news from the games including the latest analysis, reporting across all events, fixtures, medals table and a host of video and audio clips.
Users will also be able to tailor their experience to include five favourites be they teams, sports or athletes that they can follow online. Through simply clicking on the ‘Olympic favourite’ tab at the top of the page users can build up their five tabs and enjoy easy access to a host of updates all of which can be shared with their friends via Facebook, Twitter and email.
Facebook users can get into the Olympic spirit by digitally transposing national flags over their faces, a 21st century answer to face-painting. The picture then posts to their profiles to encourage friends to follow suit. The app keeps track of the number of supporters per country on a “league table.” So far, Great Britain, Peru and Turkey are leading.
Visa has launched an interactive Facebook app that allows users’ cheers to “inspire” the Olympic athletes and hopefuls. “Your cheers are the difference between memorable and unforgettable, impressive and amazing, athlete and legend”, it proclaims.
What is clear that whatever your ‘cheer’, the London 2012 Olympics can be accessed any which way you choose. Or you can simply tune in to television, on DStv or SABC, and do it the old fashioned way!